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Sexual Abuse

sexual abuseYou have a right to safety, respect, and a life free of harm from others.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen and lives are affected by the experience of abuse, including sexual abuse.

If you have experienced sexual abuse, the first thing to know is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Kids Helpline counsellors talk to a lot of young people who have been abused and are here to listen and to help.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse happens when someone uses your body or their own in a sexual way when you don't agree to it or when you were too young to make a choice.

Sexual abuse can happen to both boys and girls and can include things like:

  • unwanted touching or kissing
  • being pressured or forced to do sexual things
  • being pressured or forced to do sexual things to someone else's body
  • being photographed without some of your clothes on
  • being shown images or video of a sexual nature in magazines or movies, or on a mobile phone or computer
  • being pressured into sexual activities over the net
  • being sent obscene emails, voice or text messages

The main thing to know about all of these, is that NONE ARE OK.

Feelings

If you have been abused you are likely to be experiencing a lot of different feelings, such as shock, confusion, shame, anger or fear. Sometimes, people who have been abused can even blame themselves for what happened. These feelings can make it very difficult to talk about what's been going on.

You may also feel confused as abusers are often people you know. In fact, you may have known them for a long time, like them and used to trust them. This makes it especially difficult to tell someone about the abuse, particularly if you feel people may not believe that this person could do something like that.

If something like this has happened to you, you may not be sure whether it was sexual abuse. If any of the below things happened to you as well, then it's a good idea to talk to an adult you trust.

Secrets

There are a number of ways abusers try to make sure you don't tell anyone about what they have done, including:

  • abusing in secret
  • telling you not to tell anyone
  • telling you that it's your 'special secret'
  • threatening you or someone you care about if you told anyone
  • telling you it was your fault and that you wanted it to happen
  • telling you no-one will believe you even if you told them about the abuse
  • telling you it was a 'game'
  • giving you presents before or after the abuse
  • telling you it was a special relationship

If the person is making you keep what they are doing a secret, they probably know that if no one knows, they won't be stopped, and in fact, may try to do it again.

Sexual abuse - what to do

If you have experienced sexual abuse or you have any doubts or concerns about any sexual experience, then it's important to talk to a trusted adult and/or counsellor. Kids Helpline counsellors can offer you a safe place to tell your story at your own pace, will listen, believe you and offer support and help to keep you safe.

Remember, your body is yours:

  • you have a right to be in control of who sees it and who touches it
  • you have a right to feel safe - at all times
  • you deserve respect

If you are being, or have been sexually abused:

  • don't blame yourself - it is not your fault
  • tell an adult you trust, and keep doing so until someone listens and offers to help you
  • ring Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800

Important links

Published: 2 September 2009